How to take pictures through a canopy

After taking the Pitts pictures I remembered a blogpost I once wrote for another blog.

It was titled: ‘how to take pictures through a canopy’. The Pitts pictures were taken from the Extra 300. Ideal for speed, maneuverability and all round view, but there’s a canopy. And sometimes a canopy can be a pain in the ass. I gonna focus on some problems that may show up and give some solutions.

The canopy can be dirty or scratched; it can distort your picture or change it’s color…

Before taking off for the photoflight it’s a good thing to check your photoship.  If the canopy is dirty you can ask the pilot for something to clean it. Don’t just start to clean it yourself as you may scratch something or make it worse and that would probably be your last flight…

It’s also good  to check the canopy for distortions. Some canopies change the forms of your subject as this picture shows.

It’s good to know this before you take off so you can brief the pilots how to  fly. Inflight you can direct the subject to the right spot!

Another annoying thing are canopies that work as a colourfilter. Some canopies will change the colour of your picture. Your pictures have more blue or green (or another colour) in it than it should have, fortunately photoshop will do the trick here.

The last thing to keep in mind are the reflections. These can completely ruin an otherwise perfect shot, as shown below. You can reduce them by wearing one-toned dark clothes and by directing the plane away from the reflections. Another possibility is a rubber lenshood. You can put it against the canopy without scratching anything and you’ll lose all the reflections!

There are probably more possible problems, but these are the once I have experienced. They might seem logic and trivial, but they are forgotten easily. I hope this can help some photographers, comments and feedback are welcome!

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7 thoughts on “How to take pictures through a canopy

  1. That’s a good blog post. It’s always interesting to see how fellow photographers work around the problems of shooting aviation.

    I had a similar reflection problem when shooting the Vulcan through glass from the 1st floor viewing gallery at Doncaster airport but I didn’t have a rubber hood with me. I did have a cardboard tube that contains a large print I had done so I cut that down in size and angled the front to fit flush against the window. It worked perfectly!


    1. Sometimes you just need to be creative. I don’t have a rubber lenshood so normally I wear dark clothes to reduce the reflections. Last sunday I forgot about that and I was wearing a flashy blue shirt. Luckily few reflections…


  2. You have not mentioned micro scratches and the sun- they can reduce contrast dramatically (which can be restored by your photo software) or used positively as an artistic feature see below-

    I always plan my air to air’s with 2 360 turns left and right so the subject aeroplane has all the angles of light upon it, some angles will not work due to internal reflections on the canopy, others will surprise you!


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